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Carleton Announces Composting, “One Stream” Recycling Programs

September 6, 2007

Coinciding with the beginning of the 2007-08 academic calendar on Monday, Sept. 10, Carleton College will roll out a new recycling and composting program as part of its ongoing commitment to environmentally-friendly practices.

“One-stream,” or single-stream recycling, allows users to mix newspaper, magazines, phone books, plastic beverage bottles, milk jugs, glass bottles and jars, cereal boxes and other clean and dry cardboard into Carleton’s one-stream recycling blue bins. These bins will be located across the entire campus, including faculty and staff offices, residence halls and other high-traffic areas on campus. Carleton College is the first large Minnesota organization and first higher educational institution in the state to embark on a one-stream recycling program.

The convenience of single-stream recycling greatly increases participation and recovery rates, resulting in the recovery of up to 30 percent more recyclable materials. Single-stream also allows for efficient fleet utilization and route optimization by cutting down on specialized recycling collection vehicles and allowing greater material compaction. Over time, this reduces the energy required during the collection of the material through greater payloads and a “one route, one truck” collection methodology.

Additionally, Carleton’s commitment to sustainability now includes a composting component. The College plans to compost food waste and other products made out of biodegradable material. All food waste produced by Carleton’s dining facilities will be collected in yellow “compostable” bins. In addition, all disposable items at the snack bar, including plates, cups, containers, and utensils, are compostable. This summer, during Carleton’s Commencement and Reunion activities, all meals were served with plates and utensils made of corn-based materials that were then composted. While individual composting is common, undertaking the process on a larger scale is not. Many communities, including Northfield, compost leaves, grass and other yard waste, but approximately 55 do compost (or will in the future) organic matter at professionally managed composting facilities.

As the College rolls out this program, students, staff, and faculty will also be asked to find ways to reuse items and reduce waste. Suggested examples from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include purchasing durable, long-lasing goods, seeking products and packaging that are free of as many toxins as possible and redesigning products to use less raw material in production, have a longer life or be used again after its original use. The College will also stress reusing items when possible, by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups, or selling them. Examples of this would include using durable coffee mugs, using permanent water bottles rather than buying disposable bottles, reusing boxes, paper, envelopes, and purchasing refillable pens and pencils.

The program will help Carleton in its efforts to live up to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, recently signed by Carleton President Robert A. Oden Jr. The commitment pledges to move toward eliminating Carleton’s greenhouse gas emissions and steer the College toward climate neutrality. One of the items signed by Oden asks participants to select from a list of seven ways to support sustainability—in this case, reducing waste on campus.